Fit for a king
I try to make a point to browse through the Lawrence Journal World online every day; I like knowing what’s going on in Lawrence, Kan., the city where I lived for the first 18 years of my life. I skim through the articles, getting a general feel for the big events around Lawrence. But yesterday an article caught my eye that I knew I wanted to read in its entirety.
Similarly, in early September, I read an article on ljworld.com that caught my attention. Students at my alma mater, Lawrence Free State High School, discovered that a few seniors with disabilities had been left off the Homecoming Court nomination ballot. They quickly petitioned the right to include these deserving students on the ballot, after the initial Homecoming Court had already been determined.
Many school officials had been previously unaware of this practice, and the ballots were immediately rectified. I was horrified that my high school had formerly been so discriminatory, but so happy that students (none of whom I know) discovered this clearly offensive and unfair policy and took action to make a change.
Remembering the article from earlier in September, I found myself beaming yesterday morning while I read about Free State’s newest Homecoming King. Owen Phariss, a senior with Down syndrome, won the title of Homecoming King, to the joy of his family, friends and the entire student body. After reading the article, I felt such a rush of emotion–which didn’t stop as I looked through pictures and watched a video of the event. The look on Phariss’ face as he was announced King is one of pure joy, which was echoed in the smiling faces of his mother and his friends. Needless to say, a few tears escaped my eyes after reading the article, looking at the pictures and seeing the video.
By this point, I don’t know students at my former high school; even some of the faculty and staff have changed since I graduated in 2008. But after reading such a powerful story and seeing it expressed visually (ahh, the power of the media), I am so proud to be a Free State High School alum.
If that’s not the feel-good story of the year for this humble Midwestern college down, I don’t know what is.